SWAP – heterogeneous, workload-optimised robot teams and production architectures

Hierarchical swarms working together (semi-)autonomously: As part of the SWAP lighthouse project, ten Fraunhofer Institutes are developing new technological concepts for the modular and self-organized production of the future.

A data hub based on OPC UA ensures the manufacturer-independent networking of all assets.

Short description of the project

A central requirement for future production systems is that they are easily expandable and capable of change. This will enable them to react flexibly to rapid product generation changes, individualisation requests or unforeseeable sales fluctuations. In this context, it is crucial that adaptations to a production plant entail as little adjustment effort as possible on the part of the planning and control system.

In this context of flexible, modular and self-organising production, the SWAP lighthouse project (heterogeneous, workload-optimised robot teams and production architectures) shows how production control is changing from centralised to decentralised control, all the way to hierarchical swarms whose participants work together collaboratively and (partially) autonomously.

Project goals and contribution of Fraunhofer IOSB

In today's common architectures, standardised OPC UA information models enable machine data and runtime parameters to be provided to the higher-level IT systems, e.g. MES. For the next step towards further modular, adaptable production, the interaction between the plants and the process control must also be manufacturer-independent.

At Fraunhofer IOSB, the architecture for mapping and controlling the plants is being designed and developed. The foundation of the communication is a flexible and expandable data hub based on the OPC UA standard.

Based on this, an “execution engine“ is being developed. This takes over the sequence control and coordination and can be regarded as a generic process control. This approach enables flexible reconfiguration or replacement of systems without time-consuming adjustments to the process control system. The execution engine is based on the OPC UA standard.

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation
    and Automation IFF
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics
  • Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology

Fraunhofer lighthouse projects

With its lighthouse projects, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft sets strategic priorities in order to develop concrete solutions for the benefit of Germany as a business location. The topics are geared to the current needs of industry. The aim is to quickly turn original scientific ideas into marketable products.


Project profile

Project name: Fraunhofer lighthouse project – heterogeneous, workload-optimised robot teams and production architectures (“SWAP“)

Project duration: Jan. 1, 2020 - Dec. 31, 2023

Funder: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft